#19 HE TIPPED HIS HAT TO ME
I was a boy of about 12---walking down the road. He was a well dressed colored man walking in the opposite direction. As we were passing, he made a small bow-- tipped his hat to me and said "mister". I puzzled over this. Then one day many years later -I understood: THIS WAS A SERVANTS GESTURE----a residue of slavery days--a status acknowledgement----BUT THERE WAS MORE---HE ENJOYED DOING IT. He got a spasm of SURRENDER HAPPINESS. I have felt it myself when I declared my love to a lady. I saw it on a massive scale in Antelope, Oregon when the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh drove through town in his Rolls Royce past unctuous bowing crowds of his red-shirted followers.
#20 A KNIFE IN THE BACK
I saw it happen----a black lady---annoyed by a drunk---pulled a knife---he turned to run---but in a flashing instant--she stabbed him anyway--in the upper shoulder. And there the knife stayed--protruding from his back. He couldn't reach it and began to ask bystanders to pull it out. None would do it. He walked outside the bar and several more refused to pull it out. My courage failed me too. My brother stepped forward and pulled it out---slowly. (I can still see it coming out---not much blood) He gave it to the guy who folded it and put it in his pocket----said "thank you Mr. Charles"---and walked away. It was a living moment of deadly anger and failed courage--I've not forgotten.
#21 THE LAST BLACK BEAR
I was exploring a remote old barn----heard voices---went out back and there were 3 men--I knew them all---skinning a black bear hanging on a rope. They told me not to tell anyone---and I didn't---until now. I believe it was the final black bear in our region. Never heard of another---to this day.
#22 THE WOLF MAN
He was just passing through town----a very scary man to look at---more than heavily bearded---the hair was all over his face. He sorely needed rest because he climbed into an abandoned school bus and lay down on the back seat. Friends came and I told the story. They needed proof so I threw a stone against the bus and the creature reared his head----sure enough---a wolf man--my friends agreed. Word spread--more stones against the bus--he raised up twice more--then gave up an went on his way. But oooohh sweet people----heed my sad tale----the wheel of consequence rolls round. Here: I've put the message in rhyme.
A hobo passing through our town
Took refuge in an old bus.
He needed rest and would have got it,
Were it not for us.
Bobby said he looked like a werewolf,
And we all wanted to see.
So I threw a stone against the bus.
He rose to look at me.
Sure enough, it seemed a savage,
Who gazed a weary stare.
Above his brow, a matted mane,
His face a mask of hair.
Again and again, we banged the bus.
The hobo, increasingly distraught,
Finally gave up and shuffled away;
We gave him no more thought.
Forty years pass and now I wander
Deep in rural Mexico,
Traveling and sleeping in my car
Near the village of Cerrito.
In the night an alarming thump
Batters against my car.
Dazed and shocked, I rise to see
Who my attackers are.
They are children of the village,
Who laugh, reach down and throw
Clods of dirt to rouse me up
To look at the strange gringo.
Instantly flashing in my mind,
From forty years ago,
As clear as if I saw it now,
The face of that weary hobo.
Oh, my chickens come home to roost–
For sins, I pay the price.
I take my whipping and marvel that
My Karma’s so precise.